Interview With Billy O’Callaghan of The Barrack Street Brass Band for Cork Jazz Gig with The Frank & Walters

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-10-16

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Billy O’Callaghan, a cornet player in The Barrack Street Brass Band, also lovingly known as the ‘Barracka’, is proud of both their history and the current work they do in Cork, “the band was started as part of Father Mathew’s Temperance movement, and over the years we have remained quite true to our origins, we have have some third generation members and we have some prizes we won in competitions that are over 100 years old hanging on our walls, of course the ones we play are newer than that!”

 

Having quality instruments, obviously something that is important to a brass band’s performances, also serves a secondary purpose as Billy explained, “while some members own their own instruments, we also run an instrument bank for members to use. There are over 130 members as we actually have three bands within the group – we have the senior one, an intermediate and a young musicians one too.”

Billy has noticed the consistent impact of joining the Barrack Street Brass Band has on young people, “you can always see how it improves their confidence, to be part of a group that does positive things and developing a talent and skill on a personal level.”

The geographical make-up of the band, particularly the younger section, has evolved in recent years, “when I was a boy pretty much all the members would be from the immediate local area, but now with people moving around Cork and buying houses in the suburbs you’d see them coming from all over for rehearsals, particularly with the kids whose parents have been in it and want to continue the tradition.”

Another change he has noticed is how other time commitments affect their members, “in the old days it was easy for everyone to practice on Sunday afternoons as everyone was off the same day, but now with people working in shops that have Sunday trading, and also working different shifts it is quite hard to get the full complement together at the same time.”

An interesting gig they have been preparing for in recent weeks is a guest slot they will be doing with the Frank & Walters at their gig in the Cork Opera House, Billy explained their connection to the band, “when the band were living in London they got particularly homesick and wrote a song about the little things they remembered from home, they came up with a song called ‘Tony Corcoran’, it was about a composite character you’d see at the different parades you’d see in Cork when they were younger. So for their concert in The Opera House, the Barrack Street Brass Band will be starting a procession from the monument on Grand Parade (a nod to The Frank & Walters album ‘The Grand Parade’) at 7pm and leading everyone to Emmet Place for their concert. We’ll be joining them onstage as well for that song. It’s going to be some night!”

The Frank & Walters play The Cork Opera House on Sat 25 October, ticket information can be found at www.corkoperahouse.ie

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